How do you get started in DSLR photography?
The first step to getting started in DSLR photography is pretty straightforward. You need to go out and purchase your first DSLR camera. Just make sure you do your research because your camera body will be with you for a long time. Many of the camera manufacturers make great cameras. You just need to be aware that one manufacturer’s lenses will not mount on another manufacturer’s camera body without an adapter. So do your research before you just rush out and buy a DSLR camera.
When I bought my first DSLR it was a Canon T3i. The decision to go with a Canon camera was made because I already owned several Canon lenses for my video cameras that could be interchanged to use with a Canon camera body. This saved me considerable money on the purchase of new lenses.
I Have A Shiny New DSLR. Now What?
Once you decide on a camera you should set out learning what all the settings and buttons do. I know, as guys we are used to just tossing that waste of paper known as the user’s manual away immediately, right? (Only half kidding here). In this case, you really want to read the user’s manual and get familiar with all the settings and controls on your new camera. Nothing is more frustrating than having a perfect scene to take a photo of, then getting home and finding out you botched the settings and your photo is blown out or way too dark. Don’t try to take it all in at one time. Make a commitment to learning one or a few things at a time, then go practice what you learned. It’s perfectly OK to start out in Auto mode as you are learning how to compose a shot. However, your goal should be to learn the other camera modes and settings and get off Auto mode as soon as possible. Don’t get discouraged though. Everyone learns this stuff at their own pace.
Basic Camera Settings
I’ll go into these more in-depth in future posts, but for now, you’ll want to start with some of these basic settings to get you out of Auto mode:
- Aperture and Shutter Priority modes– These modes will allow you more creative freedom and improve your photos when used correctly. You can learn how to create those blurry backgrounds (called bokeh) that make your subject stand out from the background. By changing your shutter speed you can stop motion or create blur to give your photos more interest.
- Learn the exposure triangle– The “Exposure Triangle” refers to the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. An example of this is that it might be tempting to just crank up the ISO when confronted with a dark scene such as indoors. But cranking up the ISO also can introduce noise that can ruin your shot. Knowing the balance between these settings will give you a better chance of getting a sharp usable photo.
- Learn the right way to hold your camera– This is one skill many new DSLR owners neglect. If you seem to be getting a lot more blurry shots than sharp ones, it may be how you are holding your camera. You should use the hand you will release the shutter with to support the camera body. Pull the elbow of that arm inside against your body to steady it. Use the other hand to cradle the lens and give you a solid foundation. Also don’t jam your finger down on the shutter release. Use smooth, gentle pressure to release the shutter. Try these tips and you may see your ratio of sharp images to blurry images significantly improve.
If you want to learn more and take your photography journey to the next level you might like the Photography Master Class. This video course will definitely help you on your journey to be a better photographer.
Check out more great photography tips on our Photography Tips & Tricks page.